UEFA Europa League


See what coach Luciano Spalletti had to say in the wake of Roma's 1-0 defeat against Villarreal on Thursday night. The Giallorossi nevertheless reached the last-16 of the Europa League, thanks to last week's 4-0 win over the Submarino Amarillo in Spain.

Did something go awry in terms of your approach tonight?
"I think it's all down to the team I picked. I put [Diego] Perotti and [Stephan] El Shaarawy out wide and they tracked back with the full-backs and ended up getting caught on the defensive line. I caused a few issues because I worked them harder than I planned to yesterday, so I hold my hands up."

Why has [Thomas] Vermaelen - who's had a great career - struggled to impose himself at the back?
"That's also down to me. I put the defence under too much pressure tonight with my team selection and, because of how they play, our opponents were able to receive the ball between the lines. He misplaced a pass and these things happen. Of course, mistakes like these can be avoided and he's used to playing on the biggest stage. But yesterday the lads really worked hard in training and so that explains it."

Are you pleased with how your side have fared from the Villarreal trip up till Sunday's big match against Inter?
"I tried to make balanced, logical choices with regards to the team I picked. Ultimately they made ten changes too. It didn't happen though. I gave some playing time to guys who hadn't had much of a look in but we're still talking about big names here. Our tactical approach proved to be wrong and, as professionals, we're all accountable for the jobs we do. I didn't do mine tonight, so it's only fair I hold my hands up. They kept the ball and we only had two defensive midfielders to win the ball back who don't have the same engine as [Kevin] Strootman and [Radja] Nainggolan. Nor can you ask [Francesco] Totti to go and harry the opposition centre backs. I couldn't even switch to a back four because that would've meant playing [Kostas] Manolas out of position at right back."

Have any of those who started tonight done enough to earn a starting berth against Inter?
"We always try to boss proceedings, run hard and be aggressive. If, however, you ask certain players to operate in a way that doesn't bring out their style of play, it's anything but easy. El Shaarawy put in some good challenges and he brought the ball out well, as did Perotti. However, I gave them a real problem by starting them so deep. Things went a bit better after the break. The team struggled so much in the first period, however, that it had a knockout effect after the interval."

"Perotti played closer to Francesco in the second half and [Bruno] Peres pushed high on the left-back, while I stuck [Antonio] Rudiger at right-back. Lest we forget, we were playing a side that beat Napoli last term. We owe our place in the next round to the result in the first leg, which was outstanding, whereas people were trying to play down the win by making out Villarreal were garbage."

Give us your thoughts on the dismissal of [Claudio] Ranieri at Leicester City.
"I'm disappointed. That shows there's no gratitude in the game. His success was built on the chemistry he created in the dressing room. Given he's from Rome, we'll welcome him with open arms and we'd be delighted if he stops by. I believe they can turn things around against Sevilla."

What are you expecting from the draw?
"We want to do our bit. We want to have our say going forward and we have everything it takes to make it into the quarter-finals."

(Photo LaPresse)